MUNDANE MYSTERIES: Is There A Difference Between Traffic Citations & Traffic Tickets?

Having to pay a traffic fine can put anyone in a bad mood. Fines are regularly $150 or more, plus you could have to make a court appearance, and you’re likely to see a bump in your car insurance. And, since they’re costly & time-consuming, we do our best to avoid getting traffic citations…or are they tickets? What’s the difference between a traffic citation & a traffic ticket?

The answer is pretty simple, actually…there isn’t a difference.

When it comes to traffic violations, nothing separates a citation from a ticket. The terms are interchangeable & either can be used depending on the wording each particular officer or department prefers. Citation is the proper legal term for a written record of a traffic violation, but to call it a ticket doesn’t mean anything different. You’ll still be penalized, fined, and possibly get points on your license. The number of points, which depends both on the violation & the state where you live, can impact your insurance premiums (though they can be minimized through defensive driving courses or simply by falling off over time).

Typically, you’re likely to get a ticket for speeding, failure to obey traffic lights or signs, or driving under the influence. Not wearing a seat belt or driving without a license plate are also potential reasons you could be written up. But, once you have the ticket (which is considered a legal document), you’re obligated to pay the fine or go to court to dispute it. Not doing either of those things may result in additional charges being leveled against you, or your license could be revoked.

A traffic warning, however, is something different. That’s typically a verbal or written reprimand from an officer that you’ve violated a traffic law & should be more cautious in the future. You’re more likely to get off with just a warning if it’s your first offense.

Citation or ticket, though, one isn’t any better or worse than the other. The bottom line: you don’t want to get either one. So, drive safe!

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice) or shoot me an email at [email protected].